University of Virginia Library

No Page Number


1. I.

“I AM one of the keepers at the Asylum, you know.

“The Asylum stands on a hill; not much of a
hill, either, but just a pretty elevation of ground, with a
noble lawn sloping down to the river-bank, from which it
is separated by a high board fence. None of your commonplace
fences, understand, such as seem often to have
no other use than just to spoil a landscape. You would
say that, as a general thing, a fence like that about an
estate must be designed for keeping people out. This,
though, was meant to keep people in. The people, in
our case, are the inmates of the Asylum.” And Mr. Jervey
touched his forehead significantly.

“There was a wicket in the fence, that opened into a
boat-house, that opened at the other end on to the water.
There the doctor kept his boat, in which we gave the
patients many a fine row and sail. For he was one of
your right-down sensible, kind-hearted doctors; none of
your — Well, I won't draw comparisons, for fear I may be
considered wanting in respect toward his very worthy successor.

“He — I mean the old doctor — believed in the wholesome
influence of kindness and change of scene and mild
recreation on his patients. So he was always thinking of


Page 313
little things that would cheer and amuse them. Saturday
nights, and occasionally at other times, the boat-house was
turned into a bathing-house for a certain class of patients.
Of course it was only a certain class that could be trusted
either to go on or into the water. `It always has
a good effect to trust those that can be trusted,' says
the doctor. Then, you know, the boat and the bath, and
all such things, worked well, held out as rewards for
good behavior.

“One Sunday morning, a new patient we had just got in
complained to me that he had been promised a swim in
the river, but that nothing had been said to him when the
others went in the night before. He was so very anxious
for his bath that morning, that I thought 't would do no
harm to lay his case before the doctor.

“`What do you think of him, Jervey?' says the doctor.

“`Very quiet, very gentlemanly,' says I.

“`Bring him to me,' says the doctor.

“So I went and brought Mr. Hillbright, — for that was
the man's name, — and introduced him with the little formality
usually pleasing to that kind of people.

“`Mr. Hillbright, Doctor,' says I.

“`Ah! good morning, Mr. Hillbright,' says the doctor.
`How are you this morning?'

“`Very well indeed, Doctor, I thank you kindly,' says
the patient. He was a man of about five-and-forty, well
dressed, and very gentlemanly, as I have said; belonged to
a good family; rather fleshy; a little bald on the top of
his head; but with nothing very peculiar in his appearance
except a quick way of speaking, and a quick way of dropping
his eyes before you every now and then. `Very well
indeed, Doctor,' says he; `only the sins of the world weigh
upon me very heavily, as you are aware.' And in the most
solemn manner he bowed that bald-topped head of his until


Page 314
the doctor, where he sat, could have reached up and written
his name on it.

“`O yes, I know,' says the doctor. `They weigh upon
me too. But we shall get rid of the burden in good time,
— all in good time, Mr. Hillbright.'

“That was the doctor's style of managing patients of
this sort. It did no good to contradict them, he said, but
if you could convince one that his case was n't peculiar,
that others had had similar troubles and been cured of
'em, that was the first step toward bringing him around
to his right senses. So, if one complained that he had a
devil, the doctor would very likely relate to him in confidence
how he had had a much bigger devil, and how he
had got rid of him. `I 'm in hell! I 'm in hell, Doctor!'
says a woman to him. `I don't doubt it; a great many
people are,' says the doctor; `I have been there myself.'
And that would usually throw cold water on the fire sooner
than anything.

“Hillbright was quite taken aback by the doctor's candid
admission and expression of sympathy; for I suppose he
had never been treated with anything but contradiction
and argument till he came to us. But he rallied in a
minute and said, glib as a parrot, `I have taken the
sins of the world,' says he, `and I must bear them till
I am permited to preach and convert the world. Meanwhile
the world hates me, and all I can do for my relief
is to go down into the river and be baptized. I
need n't explain to a philosopher like you,' says he, bowing
again to the doctor, `that some of the sins will wash

“The doctor approved of the idea, and said: `Jervey,'
says he, `always have a bath-tub at Mr. Hillbright's disposal.'

“`A bath-tub?' says Hillbright, with a sort of sorrowful


Page 315
amazement; `the sins of the world in a bath-tub? The
ocean would n't hold them!'

“`Jervey,' says the doctor, `give the sins of the world
a good plunge into the river this morning.'

“So I took the key of the boat-house and went down
with my man to the shore.

“He had n't been long in the water when he made an
awful discovery. The sins would n't wash off! He must
have soap, and there was only one sort that would serve
his purpose. He said I would find a cake of it on the little
table in his room, and begged me to go and get it.

“I did n't like to lose sight of him; but the doctor had
told me always to humor his patients in trifling matters
which they considered important. `For even if we can't
cure 'em,' says he, `we can at least make 'em comfortable';
and going for a cake of soap was so little trouble, and besides,
as I said, Hillbright was such a quiet, respectable,
gentlemanly person, I thought him safe, especially if I
kept possession of his clothes. They were in the boat-house
locker, where I always kept the clothes of the bathers;
so I just turned the key on 'em and went for the
soap, leaving Mr. Hillbright to give the sins of the world a
good soaking till I came back.

“I had a pretty good hunt, finding nothing on his table
but a small pocket Bible, about the size and shape of the
thing I expected to find, but not the thing itself. It occurred
to me in a minute, though, that this was really
what the man wanted; for where else was the kind of
soap that would wash away the sins of the world? I
grinned a little at my own previous simplicity, but determined
that nobody else should have a chance to grin at
it, least of all my man in the water; so I took the Bible,
and says I to myself, `I 'll hand it to him as if it was
actually a cake of soap, and I had understood his subtle


Page 316
meaning from the first; and then see what he will do
with it.'

“I unlocked the little door in the fence, and entered the
boat-house, and was immediately struck by an odd look it
had, as if something strange had taken place in my absence.
The boat — yes, that was it — the boat was gone! I ran
along the narrow side of the platform to the door opening
on the river, and looked out, — about as anxiously as I
ever looked out of a door in my life: there was the river,
running smoothly, and looking as innocent of the sins of
the world, and the morning was looking as still and lovely,
as any river or any Sunday morning that ever you saw.
But there was no boat and no Hillbright to be seen;
boat, Hillbright, sins of the world, all had disappeared

“I ran back to the locker, and found the man's clothes
all right. My respectable, gentlemanly patient had
launched himself into society in a surprising state of
nature, — a thing I had n't for a moment believed him
capable of doing, he was always so very distant, I may
say formal, in his deportment. What with his mystical
cake of soap, and his running away as soon as I was out
of sight, I own he had fooled me most completely.

“Now, I lay it down as a general principle that nobody
likes to be taken in, even by a man in his senses. Still
less do you fancy that sort of humiliation from a man out
of his senses. Then put the case of a person in my position,
— a keeper, supposed to have more experience and
wit in dealing with the insane than you outsiders can have,
— and you perceive how very crushing a circumstance it
must have been to me.

“I ran like a deer down the river-bank, till I came to
the bend, around which I felt sure of getting a sight of the
boat. I was right there; I found the boat, but it was


Page 317
adrift, and going down with the current, without anybody
aboard. There was no Hillbright to be seen, afloat or
ashore, and it was n't possible to tell which way he had
gone, for the high fence had concealed his movements, and
then the river-banks below were fringed with trees and
bushes on both sides. So all I could do was to hurry back
to the house, give the alarm, and get all hands out on the
hunt for him, that fine Sunday morning.”

Thus far our friend Jervey.

2. II.

Parson Dodd was to be that day a partner in a triangular
exchange. That is, Dodd was to preach for Selwyn,
Selwyn was to preach for Burdick, and Burdick was to
preach for Dodd.

From Dodd's parish at Coldwater to Selwyn's at Longtrot
was a distance of some fourteen miles. Just a nice
little Sunday morning's drive in fine weather; and one to
which Dodd looked forward with interest, for two or three

To begin with, Dodd was a bachelor of full five-and-forty.
He had always intended to marry, but being one
of your procrastinating gentlemen, who make it a rule to
put off until to-morrow whatever they are not absolutely
compelled to do to-day, he had, with other things, put off
matrimony. He had even paid somewhat marked and
prolonged attentions — at different periods, of course — to
three or four ladies, each of whom had in turn been
snatched up by a more enterprising suitor, while he was


Page 318
slowly making up his mind on the subject of a proposal.
Very much as if he had been contemplating a fair morsel
on his fork, expecting in due time to swallow it, but in no
haste to do so, when some puppy had rushed in and swallowed
it for him, with a celerity that quite took the good
man's breath away.

Not that Garcey was a puppy, by any means. He was
a brother clergyman, and Selwyn's predecessor at Longtrot;
and there was a time when he liked wonderfully
well to come over and preach for Dodd. And that is the
way he became connected with the romance of Dodd's life.

To the last of the estimable ladies alluded to — namely,
Miss Melissa Wortleby, of his parish — Dodd did actually
propose matrimony, after taking about five years to think
of it. But Miss Wortleby was then aghast at an offer
which would have made her the happiest of women three
days ago.

“Dear me, Mr. Dodd!” said she. “Why did n't you
ever tell me, if you had such a thing in your mind?”

The parson stammered out that a serious step of that
nature was not to be taken in haste. “There 's always
time enough, you are aware, Miss Wortleby.”

“Yes,” said poor Miss Wortleby, with a look of distress;
“but Mr. Garcey — he — he proposed to me last Sunday,
and I —”

“You accepted him?” said Parson Dodd, turning pale
at this unexpected stroke.

Miss Wortleby's tears were a sufficient confession.

“The traitor!” said Parson Dodd. “He took advantage
of our exchange to offer himself to you. He has taken
advantage of many another exchange, I suppose, to come
over and cultivate your acquaintance. Always teasing me
for an exchange — the vil —”

“No, no, dear Mr. Dodd!” pleaded Melissa Wortleby,


Page 319
clasping his hands. “He is no traitor and no villain. He
had no idea, any more than I had, that you —”

“To be sure,” said Parson Dodd, resuming that serene
behavior and those just sentiments which were habitual
with him. “I have nobody to blame but myself, dear
Miss Wortleby.”

Dodd must have seen that he was really the young
lady's choice, and that it would have been no very difficult
task to prevail upon her to cancel her hasty engagement
with Garcey. But we must do him the justice to say that
if he was given to procrastination in matters of right, he
was still more slow to decide upon any course of doubtful
morality. So he stepped gracefully aside, and gave the
pair to each other in a very literal sense, himself performing
the wedding ceremony.

Garcey was settled, as I said, in what was now Selwyn's
parish; there he lived with his gentle Melissa, preached
two or three times a week (exchanging very rarely with
Dodd in those days, however), and laid the foundations of
a wide reputation and a large family. Then he died, leaving
to his afflicted widow a barrel of sermons and six children.

Melissa still lived at the parsonage over at Longtrot,
and boarded Selwyn, the young theological sprig, lately
slipped from the academical tree and planted in that parish
in the hope that he might take root there. It was
even whispered that he was likely to take root there in a
double sense, succeeding the lamented Garcey not only in
the pulpit, but also in Mrs. Garcey's affections. But of
course there was no truth in that suspicion. Parson Dodd
must have known there was no truth in it, for he would
have been the last man to serve another as poor Garcey
had served him. And somehow Dodd liked to preach for


Page 320

To be quite frank about the matter, Parson Dodd had
lately awakened one morning and discovered to his surprise
the marks of age creeping over him. His crown was getting
bald, his waistcoat round, his hair (what there was of
it) silvery (but he wore a wig), his frontal ivory golden.
Until yesterday he had said of growing old, as of everything
else, “Time enough for that.” But however man
may procrastinate, the old fellow with the scythe and the
forelock is always about his work; and here was Dodd's
field of life more than half mown before he knew it.
“Only a little patch of withered herbage left!” thought
he with consternation.

Of course no young lady would think of having him now.
He might have deemed his case hopeless, but there was
the mother of Garcey's innocents! I 'll not say that these
living monuments to the memory of his late friend were
not just a little dampening to the ardor of his reviving
attachment. Of all the ready-made articles with which the
world abounds, one of the least desirable is a ready made
family. To bear with easy grace a weighty domestic responsibility
(and a wife and six may be considered such),
one should begin with it at the beginning, like the man in
the fable, who, by shouldering the calf daily, came at last
to carry the ox. But to commence married life where
another man has left off, that requires courage. But Dodd
was a man of courage; one of those who, irresolute and
dilatory in ordinary matters, show unexpected pluck in the
face of formidable undertakings. He had thought of all
these things. And, as I have said, he liked to preach for

Usually, when he had that privilege, he drove over to
Longtrot early in the morning, put up his horse at the parsonage,
and had a good hour with the relict of the lamented
Garcey before the ringing of the second bell. An hour


Page 321
spent probably in Scriptural readings and conversations, or
perhaps in drilling the little Garceys in their Sunday-school
lessons. Whatever the pious task, his heart was
evidently in it; for it was always noticeable afterward
when he walked to church with the widow and her little
tribe, leading the youngest between them, that his kind
face beamed with peculiar satisfaction.

But, as I have hinted, there was other cause for the
interest with which Parson Dodd looked forward to this
particular Sunday morning's ride. Shall I confess it? The
worthy man, having no family, was a lover of animals, especially
of horses, — more especially of fine horses. He had
lately exchanged nags (an act which in a layman is termed
“swapping”) and got a bay mare; to his experienced eye
a very superior beast to the one he put away. He had
as yet had no opportunity to try her paces for more than
a short spirt; but he liked the way she carried her hoofs,
and he believed her to be “sound and true.” He had her
of a townsman, — Colonel Jakes, — who, though something
of a jockey, was never known actually to lie about a horse;
and Colonel Jakes had said, as he turned the quid in his
cheek, and squinted with a professional air across the
mare's fetlocks, and looked candid as a summer's day,
“There 's lots of travel in that beast, Parson. You see
how she goes off; and it 's my experience she 's poorest at
the start. Yes, Parson, I give ye my word, you 'll find
that creatur's generally poorest at the start. You 'll say
so when you 've drove her a little.”

It was a lovely morning, and the heart of Parson Dodd
was happy in his breast, when he set off, at half past seven
o'clock, alone in his buggy, driving the bay mare, to go
over and preach for Selwyn.

He was very carefully dressed in his dark brown wig,
his suit of handsome blue-black cloth, and ruffled shirtbosom


Page 322
of snowy whiteness, which distinguished him among
clergymen far and near. “Let me see that coat and that
shirt-bosom anywhere, and I should know it was you,” said
Mrs. Bean, with just pride in her washing and in her minister,
that very morning. “But,” her eye resting with
some surprise on his neckcloth, “where did you git that
imbroidered new white neck-handkerchief?”

“A gift, — a gift from a lady,” replied Parson Dodd,

He was not quite prepared to inform her that his appearance
in it foreboded a change in her housekeeping.
But so it was. In the note that came with it a few days
before, Melissa had written with a trembling hand: “I embroidered
it for my dear husband. Will you accept and
wear it?” Of course, these simple, pathetic words were
not in any way designed as a nudge to Dodd's well-known
procrastinating disposition. Yet he could not but feel that
putting on the neckcloth that morning was as good as
tying the matrimonial halter under his chin.

“Wal, I don't care, it 's perty anyhow!” said Mrs. Bean.

So Parson Dodd started off, wearing the fatal neckcloth,
and driving the bay mare. Her coat was glossy as silk;
the air was exhilarating; the birds sang sweetly; she
stepped off beautifully. He knew Melissa would be expecting
him, and he was happy.

“But hold on!” said he, pulling the rein all at once.
“Bless me, my sermon!” The bay mare and the embroidered
neckcloth had quite put that out of his head.
“If I had really gone without it, I should have had to
overhaul some of poor Garcey's,” thought he, as he wheeled

He wheeled again as he drove up to the gate, and called
to Mrs. Bean to go into his study and hand him down his
sermon-case, which she would find lying on his desk. As


Page 323
she reached it to him over the gate, he remarked, “You
have n't seen how she moves off.”

“No, I ha'n't,” said Mrs. Bean.

Parson Dodd tightened the reins, — those electric conductors
through which every born driver knows how to
send magnetic intelligence, the soul of the man at one
end inspiring the soul of the horse at the other. And Parson
Dodd clucked lightly. But Queen Bess (that was the
name of her) did not move. A louder cluck, and a closer
tension of the quivering ribbons. Queen Bess merely laid
her ears back, curled down her tail as if she expected a blow,
and — Dodd could see by the sparkling black eye turned
back at him — looked vicious.

“Go 'long!” said Parson Dodd, showing the whip.

Queen Bess quietly braced herself. She was evidently
used to this sort of thing, and prepared for a struggle.
Parson Dodd saw the situation at a glance, remembered
the jockey's declaration that she was “generally poorest
at the start,” and blushed to the apex of his bald crown.

“What is the matter with him?” cried sympathetic Mrs.

Him 's balky, that 's what 's the matter,” replied the
irritated parson. “Go 'long, Bess, I tell you!” And he
touched her shoulder with the whip.

The touch was followed by a sharp cut; but Bess only
cringed her tail more closely, and looked wickeder than
ever. Then he tried coaxing. All to no purpose. It was
a dead balk.

Notwithstanding his burning shame at having been
shaved by a layman who “paltered with him in a double
sense,” and his wrath at the perverse brute, and his irritation
at Mrs. Bean, who always would call a mare a him,
Parson Dodd controlled his temper, and begged the lady's
pardon, but told her she had better go into the house, for


Page 324
it might be her presence that put the devil into the brute
(she declares that he said “devil”), then got out of the
buggy, went to the animal's head, stroked her, patted her,
spoke gently to her, and led her out into the street.

Then he once more got up into his seat. But Queen
Bess saw through the transparent artifice; she had taken
serious offence at the indecision shown at starting, and
now she refused to start at all without leading. So Parson
Dodd got out again, gave her another start with his
hand on the bridle, then sprang back into the buggy, at
the risk of his limbs, while she was going. “I wonder if
I shall have to start in this way when I leave Melissa's?”
thought he, and wondered what people would say to see
him with a balky horse!

He let her go her own gait for a mile or two, then, by
way of experiment, stopped her, and started her again.
She seemed to have got over her miff by this time, for she
went off readily at a word. Having repeated this experiment
two or three times with encouraging success, (as if
the cunning creature did n't know perfectly well what he
was up to!) Parson Dodd began to think he had n't made
such a fatally bad bargain after all. “With careful management,
I can cure her of that trick,” thought he.

When he had made about ten miles of the journey, he
came to a stream where it was his custom always to “stop
and water” when going over to preach for Selwyn. There
was then an easy trot of four miles beyond, which he thought
well for a horse after drinking; and, besides, he considered
a little soaking good for his wheels in dry weather.

Parson Dodd got out, let down the mare's check-rein,
got into the buggy again, and, turning aside from the
bridge, drove down into the water, purposing to drive
through it and up the opposite bank, country fashion.

In mid-channel, he let Queen Bess stop and drink. She


Page 325
seemed pretty thirsty, and the cautious parson, to keep her
from drinking too fast and too much, found it necessary to
pull her head up now and then. This, I suppose, vexed
her; for she was a testy creature, and could not bear to
be trifled with. At last she would not put down her head,
and, when requested to start, she would not start. In
short, Queen Bess had balked again, this time in the middle
of the stream.

Parson Dodd's lips tightened across his teeth, and his
knuckles grew white about his whip-handle. But the cringing
tail and the leering eye told him that he might spare his
blows. Madam had fully made up her mind not to budge.

The parson stood up and reconnoitred. The stream was
thigh-deep, and it was a couple of rods to either shore.
The bridge was just out of jumping distance. There was
no help within call. Parson Dodd looked at the water,
then at his neatly fitting polished boots, ruffled shirt-bosom,
and blue-black suit, grinned, and sat down again.

“Queen Bess,” said he, “you think you 've got me now.
It does look so. How long do you intend to keep me here?
Take your own time, madam! But mind, you make up
for this delay when you do start.”

It was difficult, however, for a person of even so equitable
a temper as his own to possess his soul in patience very
long under the circumstances. Suppose Queen Bess should
conclude not to start at all that forenoon? What would
Melissa think? And who would preach for Selwyn?

There was another consideration. Queen Bess had had
her fill of cold water when she was warm, — a dangerous
thing for a horse that has been driven, and that is not kept
in exercise afterward. Before many minutes, Dodd had no
doubt she would be fatally foundered; though he did not
know but the cold water about her feet might do something
toward keeping the fever from settling in them.


Page 326

“This, then, is the creatur' that 's usually poorest at
starting! I should say so!” thought he. “I wish Colonel
Jakes was lashed to her back, like another Mazeppa, and
that I had the starting of her then; I 'd be willing to
sacrifice the mare. Come, come, Bess! good Queen Bess!
Will you go 'long?”

She would not, of course.

Parson Dodd looked wistfully at both banks again, and
at the inaccessible bridge, and at the hub-deep water, and
said, grimly, after a moment's profound meditation, —
“There 's only one way; I must get out and lead her!”

It is said that the brains of drowning men are lighted
at the supreme moment by a thousand vivid reflections.
Parson Dodd experienced something of this phenomenon,
even before he got into the water. He saw himself preaching
for Selwyn in unpresentable, drenched garments, — he,
the well-dressed, immaculate bachelor parson; or begging
a change of the widow, and exciting great scandal in
the congregation by entering the pulpit in a well-known
suit of Garcey's, (“'T will be said I might at least have let
his clothes alone until after I had married into them!”)
or waiting to be found where he was, at the mercy of a
vicious mare, by the first church-going teams that came
that way. Would he ever take pride in driving a neat
nag, or care to preach for Selwyn, after either of these contingencies?

“I 'll pull off my boots anyway; yes, and my coat;
there 's no use of wetting that.” He stood up on his
buggy-seat and looked anxiously both up and down the
road, and, seeing no one, said, “I may as well save my
pantaloons.” Then why not his linen and underclothes?
“The bath won't hurt me. Why did n't I think of this
before?” said he, pulling up the buggy-top for a screen.

He began with his embroidered white neckcloth, which


Page 327
he took off and placed in his hat, along with his watch,
and pocket-book, and sermon, saying, at the same time,
“Some leisure day, Queen Bess, you and I are going to
have a settlement. Lucky for you this is n't a very favorable
time for it. I 'll break your temper, or I 'll break
your neck!”

Thus talking to the shrew, and quoting exemplary
Petruchio, he packed his clothes carefully in the wagon-bottom,
and then — laughing at the ludicrousness of the
situation, in spite of himself — stepped cautiously down
into the water.

“Aha!” said he, at the first chill: “I must give my
head a plunge, or the blood will rush into it.” So he took
off his wig and laid it in his hat. Then he ducked himself
once or twice. Then he waded to the mare's head,
took her gently by the bridle and led her out.

In going up the oozy bank from the water's edge, the
animal's plashing hoofs bespattered him with mud from
head to foot. He therefore left her on the roadside, and,
taking his handkerchief, ran back to wash and dry himself
a little before putting on his clothes.

He had cleansed himself of the mud, and was standing
on a log beside the bridge, making industrious use of his
handkerchief, when he thought he heard a wagon. Fearing
to be caught in that most unclerical condition, without
even his wig, he looked up hastily over the bridge. There
was no wagon coming, but there was one going. It was
his own. Queen Bess was deliberately walking away; for
there was a nice sense of justice in that mare, and having
refused to start when he wanted her to, it was meet that
she should balance that fault by starting when he did not
want her to. Poor Dodd had not thought of that.

Taken quite by surprise, and appalled by the horrible
possibility that presented itself to his mind, he immediately


Page 328
started in pursuit. Bess had been either too obstinate
or too mad to be frightened at the apparition of him
in the water, deeming it perhaps a device to make her “go
'long.” But now a glimpse of the unfamiliar white object
flashing after her was enough, and away she went.

“Now do thy speedy utmost,” Dodd! Remember that
your clothes are in the buggy; and think not of the stones
that bruise your feet. Ah! what a race! But it is unequal,
and it is brief. The rascally jockey said too truly,
“There 's lots of travel in that beast, Parson!” The
faster Dodd runs, the more frightened is she; and since
he failed at the first dash to grasp the flying vehicle, there
is no hope for him. He has lost his breath utterly before
she has fairly begun to run. He sees that he may as well
stop, and he stops. Broken-winded, asthmatic, gasping,
despairing, he stands, a statue of distress (or very much
like a statue, indeed), on the roadside, and watches horse
and buggy disappearing in the distance. Was ever respectable,
middle-aged, slightly corpulent, slightly bald
country parson in just such a predicament?

Melissa would certainly look in vain for his coming, that
sweet Sunday morning. And who — who would preach for

3. III.

The mere loss of horse and buggy was nothing. But O,
his clothes! Parson Dodd even hoped to see the vehicle
upset or smashed, and his garments, or at least some portion
of them, flung out on the roadside. But nothing of
the kind occurred, as far as he could see. Of all his fine


Page 329
where. Miners were on the mountain. The ruined hut had
been repaired; the old shaft had been re-opened; and Guy, in
his executive capacity, had made acquaintance with that hitherto
unprofitable bore. And now was heard the sound of
sharpening the drills at the forge, and once more the mountain
resounded with the thunder of the blast. Among all the
prominent members of the association great enthusiasm prevailed.
Money was abundant, poured in as priming to the
pump which was expected soon to pour out again inexhaustible
golden supplies. Except in the coldest of the weather, the
work of the miners went on; penetrating inch by inch,
slowly and laboriously, the stubbornest azoic stone. Daily it
was anticipated that the drills would strike through, or that
the blasts would blow through, into the subterranean chambers
of coin; during which time the Biddikin mansion
glowed with warmth, and flowed with plenty, so that the
doctor grew fat, and not even poor little Job went hungry.

With the workmen at the summit, or with the men and
women of the association who filled with new magnetic life
the rooms of the old house, Guy spent his days and nights.
Here, in the half-spiritual yet intensely human elements of
a nondescript society, he found something which his soul
craved. He was much with Christina. Whether or not he
loved her, she was fast becoming necessary to him. When
he went uncomforted from Lucy, the smiles, the radiance, the
spiritual gifts, of the seeress were his consolation. Thus unconsciously
Lucy drove him to her rival. And she was forapproach.


Page 330
“I can stand in the rye up to my neck, while
I call for help, and explain my situation.” So he advanced,
wading through the high, nodding grain, which his hands
parted before him: a wretched being, but hopeful; and
with light fancies still bubbling on the current of his darker

“Gin a body meet a body coming through the rye,”
thought he.

A Sunday-morning stillness pervaded farm and dwelling.
A quail whistled on the edge of the field, “More wet!
more wet!” which sounded to Parson Dodd much like a
mocking allusion to his own recent passage of the river.
Glossy swallows were twittering about the eaves of the barn;
and enviable doves, happy in their feathers, were cooing
on the sunny side of the old shed-roof.

In the midst of this scene of perfect rural tranquillity,
the barn door was opened. The parson's heart beat fast;
somebody was leading out a horse. It was a woman!

A woman with a masculine straw hat on her head. She
was followed by another woman, also in a straw hat,
bringing a horse-collar. Then came a third woman, similarly
covered, carrying a harness. The horse's halter and
afterward his head were passed through the collar, which
was then turned over on his neck and pressed back against
his breast; the harness was put on and buckled; and then,
— horrible to tell! — a fourth straw-hatted woman appeared,
and held up the shafts of an old one-horse wagon,
while the other three backed the animal into them, and
hooked the traces.

“My luck!” said the parson, through teeth chattering
with excitement, if not with cold. “Not a man on the
place! All women! And there 's another somewhere.
Why did n't I think? It 's the house of the Five Sisters!”


Page 331

The five Misses Wiretop, spinsters, known to all the
country round about. They were rather strong-minded,
and very strong-bodied; they kept this house, and wore
straw hats, and tilled their few ancestral acres, and dispensed
with man's assistance (except occasional aid in
seed-time and harvest), and went regularly to church, and
were very respectable.

“They are getting ready for church now,” thought Parson
Dodd. “They go to Selwyn's. I always see them there.
They are going to hear me preach!”

No doubt they would have been glad to do anything for
him that lay in their power; for though they did not
think much of men generally, they had a regard for parsons,
and for Parson Dodd in particular; he knew that
from the serious, reverential glances turned up at him ever
from the Five Sisters' pew. “Yet it is n't myself they
care for,” thought he, “it 's my cloth.” And here he was
without his cloth!

He asked himself, moreover, what they could do for him,
even if he should make his wants known to them. Of
course there were no male garments in their house; and
the most he could expect of them was an old lady's gown.
He fancied himself in that!

He reasoned, however, that these sisters and their horse
might help him to recover his garments and his mare.
So he advanced still nearer, and was about calling out to
them over the top of the grain, when the Sabbath stillness
was broken by a sharp voice, —

“Stop, you sir! Stop, there!”

He did stop, as if he had been shot at. Turning his
eyes in the direction of the voice, he saw the fifth sister,
with one sleeve of her Sunday gown on, and with one
naked arm, leaning her head out of a chamber window,
and gesticulating violently.


Page 332

“Git out o' that rye! git out o' that rye! right straight
out! Do you hear, you sir? Do you hear?”

Parson Dodd must have been deaf not to have heard.
But how could he obey? Instead of getting out of the
rye, he crouched down in it until only the shining top of his
bald crown was visible, like a saucer turned up in the sun.

“Madam!” he shouted back, “I beg of you —”

But the sharp voice interrupted him: “Don't you know
no better? Can't a poor woman raise her little patch of
rye, but some creatur' must come tramp, tramp through
it? Don't you know what a path is for? There 's the
lane; why did n't you come up the lane?”

Poor Dodd would have been only too glad to explain
why. But now rose a clamor of female voices, as the four
sisters at the barn ran down to the end of the house, between
it and the field, to learn what was the matter.

“In the rye!” said the sister at the window, pointing.
“Some creatur' tryin' to hide, — don't ye see him? Looks
like a man. What ye want? Why don't ye come out?
Scroochin' down there! Who be ye, anyhow?”

“Ladies,” said poor Dodd, putting up his chin timidly,
and looking over the grain with a very piteous expression,
“don't you know me?”

But that was a very absurd question. Certainly they
did not know him without his wig. Where were those
wavy brown locks, which looked so interesting in the
preacher's desk, especially to the female portion of his congregation?
Could any one be expected to recognize in
that shorn and polished pate the noble head and front of
the bachelor parson? No, he must proclaim himself.

“Ladies! good friends! don't be alarmed, I entreat. I
have met with a —”

He was going to say misfortune. But just then he met
with something else, which interrupted him.

Blank Page

Page Blank Page

No Page Number


Page 333

The Five Sisters kept, as a protection to their loneliness,
a very large dog. One of them, learning that there was a
creatur' in the rye, had, before learning what that creatur'
was, whistled for Bruce. Bruce had come. He perceived
a rustling, or caught a gleam of the inverted saucer, and
made a dash at the field, leaping upon the dilapidated boundary-wall.
His deafening yelps from that moment drowned
every other sound. He could n't be called off even by her
who had set him on. Terror at the sight of a naked man
(few sights are more terrifying to an unsophisticated dog)
rendered him wholly wild and unmanageable. There he
stood on the wall, formidable, bristling with rage and
fright, and intercepting every word of the poor, gasping
wretch in the grain with his furious barking.

I am very sorry to say that Dodd was about as badly
frightened as the dog. He crouched, shrank away, and
finally retreated, the brute howling and yelping after
him, and the exasperated spinsters screaming to him to
take the path, and not trample down the rye, — did n't he
know what a path was for?

So ended Parson Dodd's Sunday-morning call on the
Five Sisters.

4. IV.

When Mr. Hillbright sent our friend Jervey for the
mythical soap, it is by no means certain that he contemplated
escaping from the Asylum. I think, if we could
hear Hillbright's part of the story, it would be something
like this: —

He had detected the turning of the key in the boat-house


Page 334
locker, and, hastening to it the moment Jervey was gone,
had found that his clothes were locked up. What was that
for? To prevent him from putting them on, of course,
and walking off in his keeper's absence.

“They fear I will walk off, do they? Then I will walk

Such, very probably, was his brief train of reasoning;
and such, very certainly, the conclusion arrived at. Should
the trifling want of a few rags of clothing stand in the way
of a great resolution? Should he who bore the sins of the
world, and whose duty it was to go forth and preach and
convert the world, neglect such an opening as this to get
out and fulfil his mission?

“Providence will clothe me!” And, indeed, it looked
as if Providence meant to do something of the kind. “Behold!”
There was a long piece of carpet, very ancient
and faded, in the bottom of the boat; he pulled it up,
wrapped it fantastically about him, and was clad.

He then pushed the boat out into the river, giving it an
impulse which sent it across to the opposite shore. Then
he leaped out, leaving it adrift on the current. When Mr.
Jervey found it below the bend, Mr. Hillbright was already
walking, with great dignity, in his improvised blanket,
across the skirts of a neighboring woodland, like a sachem
in his native wilds.

He had not gone far before he began to experience great
tenderness in the soles of his feet. Then by degrees it
dawned upon him that the loose ends of the carpet flapping
about his calves were but a poor substitute for trousers;
and that his attire was, on the whole, imperfect. “Too
simple for the age,” thought he. Picturesque, but hardly
the thing in which to appear and proclaim his mission to
a fastidious modern society. Would the world, that refused
to tolerate him dressed as a gentleman, accept him


Page 335
now that he was rigged out more like a king of the Cannibal

He tried various methods of wreathing the folds of antique
tapestry about his person; all of which seemed open
to criticism. He was beginning to think Providence might
have done better by him, when, getting over a fence, he
found himself on the public highway.

He knew he would be followed by his friends at the
Asylum; and here he accordingly stopped to take an observation.
He was near the summit of a long hill. At the
foot of it, near half a mile off, he saw a horse coming at a
fast gallop, which to his suspicious mind suggested pursuit,
and he shrank back into some bushes to remain concealed
while it passed.

As the animal ascended the slope, the gallop relaxed to
a leisurely canter, the canter declined to a trot, and, long
before the summit was attained, the trot had become a
walk. The horse had no rider, but there was a buggy at
its heels. Arrived near the spot where Hillbright was hid,
it turned up on the roadside, and put down its head to nip
grass. Then Hillbright saw that there was nobody in the
buggy. The horse was a runaway, that had been stopped
by the long stretch of rising ground. The horse, I may
as well add, was a bay mare.

“Providence is all right,” said Hillbright, emerging from
the bushes. “This is for my sore feet.”

At sight of the strange figure, grotesque in faded scroll
patterns of flowing tapestry, the mare shied, and would
have got away, but a two-mile course, with a hill at the
end of it, had tamed her spirit. So she merely sprang to
a corner of the fence, and remained an easy capture.

As Hillbright was about setting foot into the vehicle, —
for he had no doubt of its having been sent expressly that
he might ride, — he found an odd heap of things in his


Page 336
way. There was something that looked like suspenders;
and, following up that interesting clew, he drew forth a
pair of pantaloons; with them came a coat and waistcoat,
all of handsome blue-black cloth. “Providence means that
I shall be well clothed,” was his happy reflection, as, exploring
still further, he discovered boots and underclothes,
and a shirt of fine linen, with a wonderfully refulgent ruffled
bosom. With a triumphant smile, he proceeded to put
the things on, and found them an excellent fit.

There was still a hat left, freighted and ballasted with
various valuables, uppermost among which was a luxuriant
chestnut-brown wig. Now, Hillbright had never worn a
wig. But since he had borne the sins of the world, the
top of his head had become bare, and was not here a plain
indication that it ought to be covered? He accepted the
augury, and put on the wig.

Next came a richly embroidered white neckerchief, for
which he also found its appropriate use. Then in the
bottom of the hat remained a gold watch, which he cheerfully
put into his fob; a plump porte-monnaie which he
pocketed with a smile; and a thin package of manuscripts
betwixt dainty morocco covers, which, untying its neat
pink ribbons, he proceeded to examine.

The miracle was complete. The package was a sermon.

“This is all direct from Heaven!” said Hillbright, delighted,
and having no more doubt of the truth of his
surmise than if he had seen the buggy and its contents let
down in a golden cloud from the sky.

Thinking to find room for the package in the broad
breast-pocket of his coat, he discovered an obstacle, which
he removed. It proved to be a little oval pocket-mirror.
He held it up before him, and had reason to be pleased
with the flattering account it gave of himself. The graceful


Page 337
wig, embroidered white cravat, ruffled shirt-bosom, and
blue-black suit became him wonderfully well; they made
a new man of him. Had he known Dodd of Coldwater, he
would almost have taken himself for that well-got-up bachelor

Then for the hat, which was a stylish black beaver,
somewhat the worse for its ride; giving it a little needful
polishing before putting it on, he noticed a letter protruding
from the lining. He opened it and read:—

Reverend and dear Sir: — We have made all the arrangements.
The Ex. is all right. You preach for Selwyn at
Longtrot, on Sunday, the

B. B.

This seemed plain enough to the gratified Hillbright.
“We” he understood to mean his unseen friendly guardians.
The “arrangements” they had made were, so far
as he could see, excellent; he was provided with everything!
The “Ex.” undoubtedly alluded to his exit from
the Asylum; and that was certainly “all right.” To-day
was Sunday, the 7th; and here was his work all laid
out for him. Who Selwyn was, and where Longtrot was,
he did not know; but doubtless it would be revealed.

The signature of the missive puzzled him at first; but
soon a happy interpretation occurred to him. It was
evidently no signature at all, but an injunction. “B. B.”
stood for “Be! Be!” and it signified, “Be a man! Be
a great man! Be thyself

Yet when he came to scrutinize the address of the letter,
he perceived that the name of Hillbright, against which
the world had conceived an unreasonable prejudice, was to
be dropped for a season. “It appears,” said he, “I am to
be known as Dodd, — E. Dodd, — Rev. E. Dodd. I don't
see what the E. stands for. I wonder what my first
name is?”


Page 338

So saying, he stepped into the buggy, gathered up the
reins from the dasher, put under his feet the carpet that
was lately on his back, and set off grandly on his grand

The bay mare was herself again; she did not balk.

5. V.

Among the officers sent out in pursuit of the fugitive
from the Asylum was the superintendent of the Asylum
farm, a stout, red-faced man, named Jakes, — a brother,
by the way, of our friend Colonel Jakes of Coldwater.
He took with him an Irish laborer named Collins, also a
strong rope with which to bind, and a coarse farmer's suit
with which to clothe, the madman when caught.

The superintendent and his man put a horse before a
light carryall, and had a fine time driving about on the
pleasant country roads, while others of the pursuing party
scoured fields and woods on foot. At last they struck the
Longtrot road, and turned off toward Coldwater.

They had not driven far in that direction before they
saw a man coming in a buggy.

“A minister, ye may know by his white choker,” observed

“You 're right, Patrick,” said Jakes, “and I vow, I
believe I know who he is! I know that bay mare,
anyhow. She 's a brute my brother over in Coldwater got
shaved on by a travelling jockey; and he told me last
week, with a grin on one side of his face, he had put her
off on the minister. I bet my head that 's Parson Dodd!


Page 339
Good morning, sir; beg pardon!” And Superintendent
Jakes reined up on the roadside. “Have you seen — have
you met — hold on, if you please, sir — a minute!”

Thus appealed to, the stranger stopped his horse.
Superintendent Jakes thought that face was somehow
familiar, and so thought Collins. In fact, they had seen
it more than once about the Asylum grounds, within a
few days, as the owner of the said face knew very well.
But since one sometimes fails to recognize old friends
in strange circumstances, it is no wonder that these
farmers did not identify the new patient in Dodd's

“We 're looking for a crazy man that got away from the
Asylum this morning,” said Jakes. “A man about five feet
nine or ten. Rather portly. Good-looking and gentlemanly
when dressed; but he ran off naked. Have you
seen or heard of such a man?”

“I have n't seen anybody crazier than you or I,” said
the supposed parson.

This sounded so much like a joke, thought uttered very
gravely, that Jakes was tempted to speak of the bay

“I think I know that beast you 're driving. You had
her of Colonel Jakes of Coldwater, did n't you? Well,
he 's my brother. Your name is Dodd, I believe.”

“I have been called Dodd. But can you tell me what
my first name is? It begins with E,” said the driver of
the bay mare, with a shrewd, almost a cunning look, which
did not strike Jakes as being very ministerial. Yet he had
heard that Dodd was something of a joker.

“I never heard you called anything but Parson Dodd.
Yes, I have too. You made a speech at the convention;
I read it in the paper. E stands for Ebenezer.

“Thank you,” said the other. “I 'm glad I 've found


Page 340
out. Thank you,” — smiling, and then suddenly casting
his eyes on the ground.

“How do you find the mare?” said Jakes, by way of

“Perfect; arrangements all perfect.”

“That so? No bad tricks? Of course she 's all right;
glad you find her so,” grinned Jakes.

“How far is it to Longtrot?” asked the counterfeit Dodd.

“About a mile 'n' a half — two mile — depends upon
where in Longtrot you 're going.”

“Do you know Selwyn?”

“Minister Selwyn, preacher in the yaller meetin'-house?
I don't know him, but I know of him. How does she
start off?”

“You shall see.”

The bay mare started off very well; and the fugitive
from the Asylum, having obtained from his pursuer rather
more valuable information than he gave in return, disappeared
over the crest of the hill, on his way to the “yaller
meetin'-house” in Longtrot.

“Wonder if she re'lly ha'n't balked with him yet?” said
Superintendent Jakes, as he drove on. “I guess he 's a
jolly sort of parson. I 've seen him somewhere, sure 's the
world, though I can't remember where.”

“You have, and I was there,” said Collins; “though
where it was, I remember no more than yourself.”

They made inquiries for the fugitive all along the route,
but could hear of no more extraordinary circumstance, that
Sunday morning, than a runaway horse, seen by one or
two families, as it passed on the road to Longtrot.

“It must have gone by before we turned the corner,”
said Jakes, “for we 've seen no nag but the parson's.”

At last they came in sight of a little red-painted house,
standing well back from the street. “This is the home of


Page 341
the Five Sisters, Patrick,” said Jakes. “Guess we 'll give
'em a call.”

He turned up the lane, driving between the house and
the rye-field, and stopped in front of the wood-shed. The
dog, still bristling from his recent excitement, gave a surly
bark, and went growling away. At the same time, five
vivacious female faces appeared, three in the doorway and
two at an open window, and “set up such cackling” (as
Jakes ungallantly expressed it) that he could “hardly hear
himself think.”

“Is this Mr. Jakes?” cried one.

“From the Asylum?” cried another.

“I told you so, sister! I told you so!” cried a third.

“I knowed the man was —” cried a fourth.

“Crazy!” cried the fifth, and all together.

“Dog Bruce chased him out of the rye —”

“Sneaked off behind the fences —”

“Over toward Neighbor Lapham's —”

“An' sister Delia declares —”

“Hush, hush, sister!”

“Yes, I will! She declares she believes he had n't a
rag o' clothin' to his back!”

“Thank you,” said Jakes, having got all the information
he wanted almost without the asking. “He 's my man!
Thank ye, sisters! Good morning.”

6. VI.

At the bay-window of the pretty Gothic parsonage in
Longtrot sat the widow of the late pastor. She was
dressed in voluminous black, exceedingly becoming to her


Page 342
still fresh complexion and to her full style of beauty. If
“sighing and grief” had not produced on her precisely the
effect of which Falstaff complained, it had not certainly
wasted her to a shadow. No wonder if the contemplation
of those generous proportions, of those cheeks still fair and
round, and of the serene temper that served to keep them
so, had persuaded Parson Dodd that there might be something
yet left for him in the future better than the lonely
life he was living.

There was a book in the fair hand that had embroidered
the white neckcloth “for her dear husband.” It was that
absorbing poem of Pollok's, “The Course of Time,” which
she justly deemed not too lively for Sunday reading. Her
serious large eyes were fixed on its pages, except when
ever and anon they glanced restlessly over it, out of the
window and down the pleasant, shady street, as if in expectation
of somebody quite as interesting as the poet
Pollok. Somebody who did not make his appearance,
driving down betwixt the overhanging elms, past the
church-green, and up to the gate of the parsonage, as in
fancy she saw him so plainly whenever her eyes were on
the book. Why did they look up at all, since it was only
to refute the pretty vision?

Poor Melissa sat there until she seemed living the
Course of Time, instead of reading it. Occasionally she
varied the direction of her glances by looking at her
watch; and she grew more and more troubled as she saw
the hour slipping irrevocably by which the husband's
friend should have given to comforting the fatherless and
widow that Sunday morning.

“What can have happened?” she asked herself. “He
must have taken offence at something! What have I said
or done? It must be the cravat! Why did I do so foolish
a thing as send it with a note?” She could have


Page 343
said what she wished to say so much better than she could
write it!

The first bell rang. And now people were going to
church. The children were teasing to start. They were
tired of sitting still in the house. What was she waiting
for? Was that old Dodd coming again to-day?

“Levi! never let me hear you call him old Dodd again!
Mr. Dodd is still a young man, and he has been a good
friend to your poor mother. There!” she exclaimed, with
a little start, for her eyes, wandering down the street again,
saw the long-expected buggy coming at last.

It was a peculiar buggy, high in the springs, and with a
high and narrow top. She could not mistake it. She was
equally sure of the stylish hat and wavy brown locks and
ample shirt-frill of the driver. But in an instant the thrill
of hope the sight inspired changed to a chill of disappointment
and dismay. Parson Dodd did not drive on to the
parsonage, as he had always done before, when coming to
preach for Selwyn. The buggy turned up to the meeting-house,
and disappeared in the direction of the horse-sheds.

She waited awhile, in deep distress of mind, to see it
or its owner reappear; but in vain.

“Levi,” she said, “go right over to the church, and see
if Mr. Dodd has come. Go as quick as you can, but don't
let anybody know I sent you.”

It seemed to her that the boy was never so provokingly
slow in executing an errand.

At last she saw him returning leisurely, watching the
orioles in the elms, while her heart was bursting with impatience.
She signalled him from the window, and lifted
interrogating brows at him. Levi grinned and nodded
vivaciously in reply. Yes, the minister had come.

“Are you — are you very sure?” she tremblingly inquired,
meeting him at the door.


Page 344

“A'n't I!” said the lad. “Did n't I first go and look at
his buggy under the shed? He 's got a new horse; but I
guess I ought to know that buggy, often as it 's been in our
barn. Then I peeked in through the door, and saw him
just going up into the desk.”

Poor Mrs. Garcey was now quite ready to go to church.
Since Dodd would not come to her, she must go to him;
she must see his face, and get one look from him, even if
across the space that separated pulpit from pew.

“How was he looking, Levi?” she asked.

“Kind o' queer. I always thought Dodd felt big enough,
but I never saw him carry his head quite so high. Looked
as if he was mad at something.”

“O, I must have offended him!” sighed the unhappy
Melissa, putting on her things.

With slow and decorous steps she marshalled forth her
little tribe from the gate of the parsonage across the green
to the church-porch. The bell was ringing again, its brown
back just visible in the high belfry, tumbling and rolling
like a porpoise in the waves of its own sound. Wagons
were arriving, and the usual throng of church-goers were
alighting on the platform or walking up the steps. In the
vestibule she found a group of friends inquiring seriously
concerning each other's health, and in suppressed voices
talking of the latest news. There seemed to be some excitement
with regard to an insane man who had that morning
escaped from the Asylum, whom nobody appeared to
have seen, though he had been heard of by several through
those who were out in pursuit of him. Somehow, Melissa
took not much interest in the greetings and the gossip of
these worthy people, and parting from them, she passed
on into the aisle.

“Poor dear! She can't forgit him,” whispered kind-hearted
Mrs. Allgood, with a tear of sympathy gathering


Page 345
in the eye that followed the gloomily draped and pensive

“Huh! she 's thinkin' of another husband a'ready!”
answered sharp-tongued Miss Lynx, with a toss.

It cannot be denied that of the two, Miss Lynx had the
clearer perception of the hard fact in the case. Yet as she
set it forth, unclothed by grace and the warm tissues of
human sympathy, it was no more the truth than a skeleton
is a living body; and Mrs. Allgood's gentler judgment
was more just. Melissa had not forgotten that good man,
Garcey; and if now, in her loneliness and bereavement,
she cherished hope of other companionship, was it for
tart Miss Lynx to condemn her? Nay, who, without
knowledge of the human heart, and compassion for its sufferings
and its needs, had even a right to judge her?

She passed down the aisle, preceded by her little ones
(the elder of whom, by the way, were beginning to be not
so very little), and followed them into the pew in which she
had first sat when a bride. She would have been alone in
it then, but for the two or three poor persons to whom
she was always glad to give seats. But one after another
a little Garcey had appeared, first in her arms, perhaps,
then in the seat beside her, and thus, year by year, the
family row had increased, until now it almost filled the
cushioned slip. A mist of tender, regretful sentiment
seemed to suffuse the very atmosphere about her as she
listened to the tone of the bell, and thought what changes
had come over her dream of life since she first sat there
and looked up with pride to see the beloved, the eloquent
her Garcey — in the desk! Now, here she was again,
looking with anxious eyes and a troubled heart for another.

There were the well-known wavy chestnut-brown locks,
and a shoulder of the blue-black coat, just visible from the


Page 346
side-slip in which she sat. But the wearer did not once
deign to look at her. He held his head bowed behind the
desk, as if in devout contemplation, and thoughts in which
she, alas! had no share. She longed to see him lift it,
and turn toward her those gracious, sympathizing features,
the very sight of which was a comfort to her heart. And
it must be confessed she had a strong curiosity regarding
the embroidered cravat.

“I must speak with him after the service,” thought she.
“I will make him come to the house.” And she turned
and whispered to the topmost head of the little row.

“It has just occurred to me, Levi, you 'd better go and
put his horse in our barn. It will be too bad to have the
poor beast standing under the shed all day.”

“'T won't hurt anything; besides, he might have drove
over there himself, if he wanted his horse put out,” said
Levi, with a scowl.

“You can get into the buggy and ride over,” said his
mother, grown all at once wonderfully solicitous with regard
to the welfare of the poor beast.

The ride was an object, and Levi went.

The bell stopped ringing, the choir ceased singing, the
congregation was in its place, all hushed and expectant;
and still Levi did not return. His mother would have felt
anxious about him at any other time; but now a greater
trouble absorbed the less.

It was not like Parson Dodd to sit so long in that way
with his head down. A movement of the arm, and a rustle
of leaves heard in the stillness of the house, showed that
he was turning over the manuscript of his sermon, or selecting
hymns, or looking up chapter and verse. But all
that should have been done before. He ought not now to
keep the people waiting.

The silence was broken by a cough. This was followed


Page 347
by several coughs, which appeared to have been hitherto
suppressed. Then entered four of the Five Sisters, uncommonly
late this morning, for some reason. In spite of
untoward circumstances, they had come to hear Mr. Dodd
— that dear, good man — preach. And now a buzz of
whispers began to run through the congregation; hushed,
however, as soon as the preacher rose.

Melissa, watching intently, saw the noble head of luxuriant
chestnut-brown hair slowly lifted. Then bloomed
the abundant shirt-ruffle over the desk, together with —
yes, the white neckerchief embroidered by her own hand!
But even while she recognized it, a thrill of amazement, a
chill of consternation, passed over her, as the wearer,
stretching forth his hands, cried out in a loud, strange
voice, —

We will pray for the sins of the world!

7. VII.

When Parson Dodd withdrew from the society of the
Five Sisters and their dog Bruce, he descried across the
fields a house and barn situated on another road, and
made toward them, under the shelter of walls and fences,
thinking that if he could take them in the rear, and enter
the barn unperceived, he might at least secure a horse-blanket
in which to introduce himself to the family.

He found, however, to his dismay, that they must be
finally approached across a range of barren pasture, unsheltered
even by a shrub. No friendly rye-field here;
and he was too far off to make known his wants by shouting.


Page 348
He did shout two or three times from behind an old
cow-house in which he took refuge, but timidly, and without
the desired effect. What was to be done?

He had turned aside to visit the cow-house, in the feeble
hope of finding there some relief to his forlorn condition.
But it was empty even of straw.

As he cast about him in his despair, seeking for something
wherewith to cover his farther advance, his eye fell
upon the cow-house door. “If I only had that off its
hinges, I might carry it before me,” thought he. He took
hold of it and found it could be easily removed. In a
minute he had it in his arms. “Samson carrying off the
gates of Gaza!” was the lively comparison that occurred
to him, — but with this difference: whereas, in familiar
Bible pictures, the strong man was represented as bearing
his burden on his back, this modern Samson poised his
upon his portly bosom. “Circumstances alter cases,”
thought he.

With arms stretched across it, grasping its edges with
his hands, and just lifting it from the ground (it was not
very heavy), he moved forward with it cautiously, — much
like a Roman soldier under cover of his immense scutum,
or door-shaped shield, occasionally setting it down to rest
(being careful at such times to take his toes from under
it), or reconnoitring his ground from behind it; but always
keeping it skilfully betwixt his person and the enemy's

Now, one can easily picture the amazement of the worthy
Lapham family, when its younger members reported a
wonderful phenomenon in the cow-pasture, that calm Sunday
morning; and mother and children running to look,
behold! there was the cow-house door advancing in this
extraordinary manner to pay them a visit; staggering
slightly, and balancing itself occasionally on its lower corners,


Page 349
like a door that had as yet learned but imperfectly
the art of walking! Close scrutiny might perhaps have
revealed to them the human fingers clasping the edges of
it; or the feet of flesh and blood taking short steps under
it; or the glistening crown of the bearer peeping furtively
from behind. But when the vulgar mind is greatly astonished,
it is prone to see only that which most astonishes;
and, accordingly, good Mrs. Lapham and the little Laphams,
failing to discriminate in such trifling matters as
hands and feet, saw only the gross phenomenon of the
perambulating door. It was like Birnam Wood coming to

What gave a sort of dramatic effect to the apparition
was the grotesque outline of a human figure, large as life,
which the boys had chalked on the outside of the door, for
a target. As soon as they saw this advance, grinning at
them, they were greatly excited; and one ran for the

“Keep back, mother!” said he; “I 'll give the old
thing a shot, if 't is Sunday!”

“Stop! You sha' n't, Jason! Martin, run for your
father! Run!”

Mr. Lapham had been talking with a stranger at the
gate, who had just driven up when the children ran out to
proclaim the wonder.

“Nonsense, children!” said he. “A door don't move
across the country without somebody to help it; you ought
to know that, mother. Wal! there!” he exclaimed, witnessing
the miracle from the kitchen window. “It is on
its travels, sure enough! Jason, run and see if you can
catch that man I was talking with. Holler! scream! Be

“Who is he, father?” asked mother.

“A man from the Asylum — says one of their crazy folks


Page 350
got away this morning. Run off without his clothes. He 's
behind that door, I 'll bet a dollar!”

This seemed a very plausible explanation of the mystery;
but it did not serve to tranquillize the mother and
children. Was not a live madman as much to be dreaded
as a walking door?

“Don't be frightened. Just shet the house and keep
dark. I 'll head him off. Give me the gun, I may want
it.” And arming himself, out the farmer sallied.

Parson Dodd had by this time perceived that his approach
was creating a sensation. For want of a pocket,
he had tied his handkerchief to his wrist. He now fluttered
that white flag over a corner of the door for a signal;
then, with his hand behind his mouth for a trumpet, summoned
a parley. Looking to see some friendly recognition
of his flag of truce, great was his consternation at beholding
so warlike a demonstration as a man running to the
ambush of some quince-bushes with a gun. In vain he
fluttered his white flag, and called for help.

“I a'n't goin' to fall into no trap sot by a crazy pate!”
thought shrewd Farmer Lapham, as he concealed himself.

Poor Dodd was in a terrible situation. He could not
advance without the risk of receiving a bullet; neither
could he lay the door down, unless, indeed, he first laid
himself down, and then drew it over him for a blanket.
He might retreat, but that movement, too, presented difficulties.
So there he stood, holding up the target, beckoning
and shouting himself hoarse to no purpose.

And now the musical clamor of church bells rose on the
tranquil morning air. “The wedding-guest here beat his
breast, for he heard the loud bassoon!
” thought he; for still
he could not keep odd fancies out of his brain. Yet how
far off those bells sounded! — not in distance only; they
seemed to be in a world of which he had once dreamed.


Page 351
He thought of the sermon he was to have preached that
day as something he might have written in a previous
state of existence, something quite foreign to the dread
realities of life.

“I can't stand here holding up a door forever!” thought
he at last. And he determined to move on, in spite of
bullets. So he took up the door, and resumed his march.

Observing the point he was aiming at, Lapham thought
it wise to get into the barn before him, and station himself
where he could keep guard over his property, watch the
supposed madman, and fire a defensive shot if necessary.

Dodd, bearing up the door, did not perceive this flank
movement; but advancing to within a few yards of the
barn, he was astonished at hearing a voice thunder forth
from a window, “Stop, or I 'll shoot!”

Dodd stopped and peeped forth from behind his portable
screen, showing a bald crown which was very much against

“His keeper said he was bald on top of his head,” the
farmer reasoned. And he called out, “What do you

Rest and a guide and food and fire,” was running in
Dodd's mind; but he answered in plain prose, and very
emphatically, “I want clothes.”

This was another corroborating circumstance, and a very
strong one.

“How came you here without clothes?”

“I lost them by a singular accident. I am a clergyman,
on my way to preach.”

This was conclusive. “The very chap! His keeper said
he imagined himself a preacher,” thought the farmer.
“Wonder if I can't manage to trap him!” And he cast
about him for the means.


Page 352

“I 'll explain everything; only give me something to
cover myself, and don't keep me standing here!” said Parson
Dodd, growing impatient.

By this time Lapham had formed his plan. “Do just
as I tell ye now, and you shall have clothes. Come into
the barn, turn to the right, and you 'll find a harness-room,
and in it you 'll find a frock and overalls. Do you hear?”

Dodd heard, and the prospect of even so poor a covering
thrilled his heart with gratitude. He came on with
his door, left it leaning against the barn, and entered.

He found the harness-room as described, and seized
eagerly upon the frock and overalls. But just as he was
putting them on the door of the room flew together with a
bang; the crafty farmer, who had hidden behind it, sprang
and turned the key, and the “madman” was locked in.

Having accomplished this daring feat, Farmer Lapham,
deaf to the cries of his victim, ran out excitedly to call for
help, just as Patrick Collins was taking down a pair of
bars on the other side of the pasture for Superintendent
Jakes to drive through. Their errand was soon made

“I 've ketched the feller for ye!” cried the elated
farmer. And he led Jakes to the dungeon within which
the entrapped parson was calling lustily.

“Unlock the door; don't be afraid, man!” said Jakes.

Lapham opened it and stepped cautiously back while
the superintendent entered, followed by Collins with a
rope and a bundle of clothes.

Within stood the captive, a comical figure, in loose blue
frock and overalls, barefoot and wigless, and with a countenance
in which indignation at the farmer, joy at the
prospect of deliverance, and a consciousness of his own
ludicrous situation, were mingled in an expression which
was very droll indeed.


Page 353

“How are you?” said Jakes in an offhand way. “We
have brought your clothes; would you like to put 'em on?”

“I would; and I am infinitely obliged to you, my good
friends!” said poor Dodd, thinking the worst of his
troubles now over. “How did you find — But what —
These — these are not my clothes!”

“A'n't they?” said Jakes. “You 'd better put 'em on,
though. They 'll do till you get back to the doctor's.”

“To the doctor's? What do you mean? I am a clergyman.
I was on my way to preach —”

“Yes, we understand all about that. Come, on with
the clothes. We don't expect you 'll give us any trouble,
Mr. Hillbright.”

“Hillbright! I am Dodd, — Dodd of Coldwater, — a

“There are two of you, then!” said Jakes, laughing
incredulously. “We just met one Parson Dodd, in his
buggy, driving the bay mare he had of my brother, going
over to preach at Longtrot. He 's there by this time.”

“Dodd — Longtrot — the bay mare!” gasped out the
astonished parson. “Impossible!”

“Come, no nonsense, Mr. Hillbright! Colonel Jakes,
of Coldwater, is my brother, and I know the mare perfectly
well, — the balky brute!”

“There is some mistake here, Mr. Jakes, — if that is
your name. I knew the Colonel had a brother at the Insane
Asylum, and I suspect you are he.”

“Yes, and you 've seen me there often enough, I suppose.
Now, no more fooling. I don't want to use force,
if it can be avoided; but you must go with us, — that 's all
there is about it. Collins, pass along that rope.”

“Never mind the rope,” said Dodd. “Just hear my
explanation, and you 'll save yourself and me some trouble.
That mare balked with me in the middle of the river, and


Page 354
to lead her out I had to take off my clothes and put them
in the wagon, and she ran away with them.”

“A very ingenious story,” said Jakes; “but you
would n't have thought on 't if I had n't just said she was
a balky brute. Come, this won't do. Mr. Hillbright, or
Mr. Dodd, or whatever your name, you must go with us;
and you can take your choice, whether to go peaceably or
be tied with this rope. We 're much obliged to you, Mr.

Seeing resistance to be vain, Parson Dodd stepped into
the wagon, stared at by the whole family of Laphams, who
had come out to get a view of the madman, and was carried
off triumphantly by Jakes and Collins.

8. VIII.

Animated by the prospect of a ride, young Levi Garcey
backed the minister's buggy out from under the shed, got
up into it, took the reins, and was having his simple reward,
when, as he was crossing the street, a slight misunderstanding
occurred between him and the bay mare. She
wanted to return homeward, never yet having enjoyed the
hospitalities of the Garcey stable. Not being permitted
to follow her own sweet will, she refused to move at all, —
balked, in short. And this was the reason why Levi did
not go back into church.

There he was in the middle of the street, when a man
in a chaise drove up. He was the same who had stopped
at Farmer Lapham's gate, and whom Jason Lapham had
failed to overtake. To be more explicit, it was Jervey.


Page 355

Stopping to help the boy out of his trouble, or to make
inquiries concerning Hillbright, he remarked in the bottom
of the buggy something that had a familiar look. He
pulled it up, and recognized the strip of carpet belonging
to the doctor's boat.

“How came this thing here?”

“I d'n' know. I found it in the buggy.”

“Whose buggy is it?”

“The minister's, — Mr. Dodd's.”

“Where is he?”

“In the meetin'-house, where I ought to be,” said Levi.

“Just look out for my horse a minute,” said Jervey.
And he started for the church door, rightly regarding the
carpet as a clew which might lead to something.

What it did lead to was the most astonishing thing that
ever happened in all his remarkable experience. He had
thought that, if he could get a word with the minister, he
might perhaps hear from Hillbright, and lo! the minister
was Hillbright himself! He did not recognize him at first
in that wonderful costume, which seemed little short of
miraculous; and he could scarcely credit his senses when
the madman's phraseology and tones of voice (he was still
praying at a furious rate for the sins of the world) betrayed
his identity.

The prayer was an incoherent outpouring of mingled
sense and nonsense; and the congregation was beginning
to show marked signs of uneasiness and excitement under

“What 's up?” whispered Jervey to the sexton.

“I don't know,” replied the sexton. “We expected Dodd
of Coldwater to preach to-day. But he seems to have sent
an odd genius in his place, — in his clothes, too.”

“Can we get into the pulpit without going through the
aisle?” Jervey quietly asked.


Page 356

“Yes, I can show you. What under the sun is the matter?”

“Your odd genius is a madman, that escaped this morning,
naked, from the Asylum.”

“'T a'n't possible! He came in Dodd's buggy!”

“Then I am afraid some mischief has happened to Dodd.”

“A madman! — naked! He must have murdered Dodd
for his clothes!”

“Keep quiet. Don't alarm the people; but just call out
two or three of your prominent men.”

I know not how many in the congregation had by this
time learned the real character of the man who appeared before
them so strangely in Dodd's place and in Dodd's attire.
It had taken some a good while to find out that it was not
Dodd himself. But there was one who at the first moment
saw the astounding change and feared the worst.

This was Melissa. She remembered the gossip in the
vestibule concerning the escaped madman, and, connecting
that with the arrival of Dodd's buggy and characteristic
apparel, what else could she infer than that he had been
waylaid and robbed, and perhaps killed? The fanatical
extravagance of the prayer corroborated her suspicions.
She glanced around and saw the grave deacons looking
restless and disturbed. Then came a stranger to the door,
and whispered to the sexton, who whispered to Deacon
Sturgis and Deacon Adams and Dr. Cole, who got up and
went out.

Next came a singular movement in the pulpit. It was
at the close of the prayer, when the usurper of Dodd's
raiment unclosed his eyes, and, looking about him, saw two
or three men in the shadow of the pulpit stairs. He
stooped to speak with them; there was a sound of quick,
low voices; then the spurious Dodd had disappeared; and
lo! there was good Deacon Sturgis standing in front of


Page 357
the pulpit. The whole congregation was by this time in
a rustle of commotion.

“I hope the friends won't be disturbed at all,” said he.
“A mistake of some little importance has occurred; but
everything will come out right, we trust. Meanwhile the
services will go on.”

Here the deacon read, with great deliberation, the
longest hymn he could select. “Congregation will please
jine with the choir in singin',” he said; and set the example,
in a loud, nasal voice.

The singing ended, he read a passage of Scripture; then
called on one of the brethren noted for having a gift that
way to offer up a prayer. The prayer too was a long one.
Then Deacon Sturgis read another hymn; during the singing
of which Deacon Adams came in and whispered a word
in his ear.

The second hymn ended, Melissa was watching in great
distress of mind to see what the deacons would do, when
she noticed all eyes turned again toward the pulpit.
Turning hers in the same direction, she barely suppressed
a scream; for there, behind the desk, appeared once more
the well-known wig, effulgent shirt-ruffle, and blue-black
suit. But it was no longer the spurious Dodd that was
there. It was Parson Dodd himself!

Riding away with his captors in the carryall, Dodd had
rendered so straightforward an account of himself, corroborating
it with many particulars concerning Jakes's brother,
the Colonel, that Jakes was staggered by it.

“Patrick,” said he, aside to Collins, “a'n't it just possible
the other Dodd is the man? You know we thought we
had seen him before!”

“Ah! but they 're cunning divils! Don't ye belaive a
word this feller says,” replied Collins.


Page 358

Jakes, however, was secretly persuaded of his blunder;
and he so far deferred to the wishes of his prisoner as to
drive over toward Longtrot in pursuit of “the other
Dodd.” So it happened that the real Dodd's capture as a
madman resulted to his advantage, since it hastened the
dénouement of his unhappy adventure, and enabled him,
after all, to preach for Selwyn.

The dénouement took place in front of the meeting-house,
where Levi was still holding Jervey's horse; where two
men, seated in Dodd's buggy, were just starting in search
of the owner, — or, rather, trying to start, for the bay mare
had something to say about that; and where Patrick,
catching a glimpse of Jervey coming out of the vestry with
his madman, called to him, “Jervey, Jervey! we 've got
the feller!”

“So have I!” cried Jervey; and there the genuine parson
was brought face to face with the counterfeit.

“Gentlemen,” said Hillbright, bowing low in his borrowed
plumage, “I succumb; I see the world is against
me; I must still groan under the sins of it!”

“I owe you a thousand apologies, Mr. Dodd!” said

“On the contrary,” replied Dodd, having fully recovered
his good-humor, “you have done me a service, though it
did seem to me one while that — what with you and your
Irishman, and your brother and his bay mare — the Jakes
family was bound to ruin me.”

“Step right into my house, friends!” said Deacon
Adams. “There everything can be arranged.”

And there everything was arranged, to the satisfaction
of everybody, excepting perhaps Hillbright, who was reluctant
to put off his Heaven-sent apparel and return to
the Asylum without fulfilling his great mission.

Parson Dodd was himself again when he appeared in the


Page 359
desk; and it is said that he preached for Selwyn that day
one of his very best sermons

“What a beautiful discourse!” said one of the Five Sisters,
thanking him for it as he was going out of church.

“And, only think, sisters,” said another of them, “how
near we come to missin' it, all on account of that dreadful
crazy man! I hope his keepers have got him safe!”

“I hope they have!” said Parson Dodd, dryly, as he
walked out with Melissa, and went over to lunch at the

The joke was out before the afternoon services began;
and when Dodd reappeared in the desk, it was with difficulty
that either he or the gravest of his hearers repressed
a very strong inclination to smile.

The news of his mishap reached Coldwater before he
did; Superintendent Jakes — to atone for his blunder, I
suppose — having ridden over that afternoon to remonstrate
with his brother, the Colonel, for putting off on the
parson so vicious a brute as the bay mare. The whole
thing struck the Colonel as so good a joke, and put him
into such excellent humor, that he voluntarily drove the
old gray over to Dodd's the next morning, and offered to
swap back, which offer was most cheerfully accepted by
the parson. “Did n't I tell ye,” said Jakes, “that the
creatur' was always poorest at the start?” So Dodd got
back his old gray, and somebody else got shaved on the
bay mare.

Parson Dodd continued to travel occasionally the Longtrot
road, both on Sunday mornings and week-day afternoons,
until after his marriage. But now Melissa and the
children (he is remarkably fond of children) make his home
so delightful to him that he leaves it as seldom as possible.
And so it happens that of late years he very rarely goes
over to preach for Selwyn.